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CEH - Seminar 18th July - Dr Heather Cegla

Welcome

Please join us at the Centre for Exoplanets and Habitability to listen to Dr Heather Cegla talk about pathways to the confirmation and characterisation of habitable alien worlds.

How to Attend

The seminar will be hosted both in-person and online, see details below for how to connect.

In-person - Physics Lecture Theatre (PLT) at 3pm.

Online - via Microsoft Teams accessible hereLink opens in a new windowLink opens in a new window.

Abstract

Are we alone in the Universe? Since the confirmation of the first planets outside our solar system in the 1990s, we have made tremendous progress towards answering this question. Yet, the confirmation of a true Earth-analogue still evades us. On top of this, if we are truly to understand the origins of life in the cosmos, we must also create a complete picture of planetary formation, evolution, and habitability. However, each of these aspects necessitates a detailed knowledge of Sun-like stars. This is because we study exoplanets indirectly by analysing their much more luminous host stars. For example, most planet confirmation relies on the Doppler wobble of the host star, induced by the presence of the planet. Moreover, we can learn about a planet's dynamical history from mapping its projected orbit as it transits its host star. Hence, if there are inhomogeneities on the stellar surface, they can impact planetary interpretations and even completely swamp the signals from rocky worlds. In this talk, I will discuss how we confirm and characterise planets outside our solar system and how our knowledge of their host stars poses a fundamental hurdle we must overcome on the pathway to rocky, temperate worlds.

When?

Monday 18th July 2022 at 3pm

Where?

Physics Lecture Theatre, PLT

Who?

Everyone is Welcome!

Image of Heather Cegla

Dr Heather Cegla's Research Interests

Since the confirmation of the first planets outside our solar system in the 1990s, we have made tremendous progress towards answering this question. Yet, the confirmation of a true Earth-analogue still evades us. On top of this, if we are truly to understand the origins of life in the cosmos, we must also create a complete picture of planetary formation, evolution, and habitability.

However, each of these aspects necessitates a detailed knowledge of solar-type stars. This is because we study exoplanets indirectly by analysing their much more luminous host stars. For example, most planet confirmation relies on the Doppler wobble of the host star, induced by the planet. Moreover, we can learn about a planet's dynamical history from mapping its projected orbit as it transits its host star. Hence, stellar surface inhomogeneities can impact planetary interpretations, and can completely swamp the signals from rocky worlds.

My research, as a UKRI Future Leaders Fellow, aims to overcome these hurdles. For this, I study stellar surfaces from a two-pronged approach: with state-of-the-art 3D simulations and using transiting planets to empirically probe stellar surfaces